One of the most popular posts on http://www.iwmsnews.com is about the usage of acronyms to describe a software solution for managing facility and real estate processes. In addition to that, I receive a lot of questions about all different acronyms and their meaning. Apparently these acronyms are confusing people. Most questions are either about solving a functional problem, or about clarification of the acronyms.
CAFM or IWMS?
I have listed two of the most common questions below.
- We want to organize our (space management, asset management, lease management, corporate real estate management, maintenance management, etc.), but we don’t know what kind of software solution we should buy? An IWMS or CMMS? Or perhaps EAM?
- What is the difference between CAFM and IWMS?
These questions are very legitimate questions as in most cases substantial investment is involved, and people don’t want to be sacked for making a bad investment.
So how can we help those people?
Let’s take a look at the origin of these acronyms. According to Marty Chobot (FM:Systems)
Functional disciplines in facilities and real estate departments have been siloed. As a result, each discipline has had a category of software (and acronyms) developed around it – space and occupancy management (CAFM and some vendor specific variations on that term), maintenance (CMMS, EAM project management (currently IPD), portfolio management and lease administration (sometimes called REPM).
According to Andy Fuhrman (former CEO of OSCRE):
In the early days of CAFM we were integrating these applications that contained modules for Space Planning & Forecasting, Move Management, Maintenance Management, Cable/IT Management, Equipment Asset Management and some.
I totally agree with the above statements that functional silos and integration challenges have been the fundamental drivers of the development of acronyms to describe a facility management solution. To standout from their competition, vendors and business analysts have created all kinds of acronyms (EAM, CMMS, CAFM , FMIS, CIFM, IWMS and others), that instead of clarify, only confuse people. To help all confused people I’ll try to explain this. As a picture is worth a thousand words, I have created a graph about the current acronyms and their relation with the functional silos.
- Although I acknowledge the overlap between solutions, the above graph should give you an indication what solution to buy.
- Integrated Workplace Management Systems (green) are the top of the chain. IWMS includes all the basic functional domains (blue).
- If you need a solution in more than one functional silo, you should consider buy an IWMS.
- If you only need a solution in one specific functional silo, you should consider buying a functional domain solution (orange). Sometimes this is referred to as a point-solution.
- IWMS doesn’t have the functional depth of a point solution, but is broader than point-solutions. You should consider the 80/20 rule here.
- Integration with other applications should be an important aspect of the buying decision.
- Expect change. Changes will occur! This implicates that you need to expect changes in both your functional requirements (silos) and integration.
Although the Enterprise resource planning (ERP) market has consolidated acronyms to one widely accepted acronym, our industry apparently still isn’t mature enough to do so. We therefore consider consolidation of acronyms one of our challenges for 2010, and we gladly invite you to participate in that challenge. I would love to hear your thoughts!